Law and Order SVU season 20 premiere preview: Man Up/Man Down

LAW & ORDER: SPECIAL VICTIMS UNIT -- "Man Down" Episode 2004 -- Pictured: Philip Winchester as Peter Stone -- (Photo by: Barbara Nitke/NBC)
LAW & ORDER: SPECIAL VICTIMS UNIT -- "Man Down" Episode 2004 -- Pictured: Philip Winchester as Peter Stone -- (Photo by: Barbara Nitke/NBC) /

Law and Order SVU returns with a two-hour premiere. Find out what to watch for in our Law and Order SVU season 20, episodes 1 and 2 preview.

Law and Order SVU celebrates its 20th season on Thursday, so NBC is marking the occasion with a two-hour season premiere. What should fans expect from this opening doubleheader?

Just like the previous season’s finale, the premiere presents one case told over two consecutive episodes. It’s not a spoiler to say that there are a few complications, because otherwise the plot wouldn’t stretch long enough to cover two hours.

These episodes also introduce all of the recurring cast members who were announced over the summer hiatus, so fans will get their first look at these new players in the SVU universe.

In the first half, entitled “Man Up,” the detectives investigate the case of a teenager named Sam Conway. Sam appears to have been assaulted, but he’s not saying anything. So can they build a case without him?

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Sam’s father will look very familiar to fans of Dick Wolf‘s One Chicago franchise. Jack Conway is played by Dylan Walsh, who was the featured guest star in the Chicago Justice episode “Fool Me Twice.”

He also appeared in a past SVU episode, too, but what makes the Justice role worth bringing up is that in that episode, his character was prosecuted by Peter Stone (Philip Winchester)!

Let’s see if that comes up, given that fans know Chicago Justice and this series exist in the same fictional universe. Christopher Wiehl already reprised his role from Justice in the episode “Service.”

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There’s more going on here, too. Sandrine Holt (The Crossing, Homeland, and 24) starts her own recurring part as Dr. Lisa Abernathy, a psychiatrist who’s brought in to consult on Sam’s case but winds up treating Peter—who is still shocked by the murder of his sister last season. How deeply will SVU season 20 explore that trauma?

Plus, George Newbern arrives as the ex-boyfriend that Amanda Rollins kicked to the curb for cheating on her with prostitutes. However, because this is Rollins, she decides to give Dr. Al a second chance. And if you’ve seen Newbern’s work as Charlie on ABC‘s Scandal, you know he’s capable of being both charming and really evil. This will be interesting.

Watch a sneak peek from the SVU season 20 premiere episodes below and then tune in Thursday evening to see the full two-hour opener:

dark. Next. Full SVU schedule for September

For the latest Law and Order SVU season 20 spoilers and news, plus more on all of Dick Wolf’s other shows, follow the Dick Wolf category at One Chicago Center.